Often while traveling by plane, the only options we think we can order are “chicken rice” or “beef noodles”. But did you know there are plenty of other tasty options you could order on your next flight? As the number of vegetarian passengers has grown, airlines have introduced more veggie options into the menu to cater for this increasingly large group, also providing a variety of styles, including Jain-satisfactory vegetarian meals, Western meals, and more. So for you vegetarians, traveling will no longer be such a hassle. We too can create a luxurious option for ourselves – all we must do is take initiative and voice out our requests and the problem is solved.
So how do we make vegetarian meals an easy option on planes?
First, make our vegetarian identities known to the airline. Large airlines nowadays will cater specifically to your needs, but there are still many small and domestic airlines that have their own programs. Let them know, when you make a booking (you often fill out a form), or tell them 24 hours in advance and they will prepare a vegetarian option just for you.
Second, order what you want to eat. Airlines will provide different vegetarian meals, whether it’s Western and vegan, or oriental vegetarian, and with different international codes (more in detail about that later), you just need to explain your dietary preferences to get the meal you want to eat.
Third, don’t forget to confirm that your vegetarian meal choice was successful. Within 24 hours prior to departure, you can call to check whether the airline has acknowledged your vegetarian preference. After you receive your boarding pass at the airport, your special dietary choice will be printed on the pass and you can confirm once again. After boarding, passengers with vegetarian meals will get special priority (yay!). Of course, if you accidentally forget to book in advance, you can still take your chances and ask the flight attendant if they will serve you a vegetarian meal on-flight.
Tip: if you have time before the trip, you can prepare some well-washed fruits, nuts, or vegetarian snacks, as sometimes the plane does not provide snacks for vegetarians, and you may go hungry.
Common Types of Vegetarian Options
Below are some descriptions/images of vegetarian meals that are usually offered. If you have special needs (i.e. gluten-free, or sugar-free), make sure you check out the meals below to make sure they satisfy your needs!
Western Vegan (VGML)
Free from all kinds of meat, seafood and dairy products, made in a Western style.
Eastern Vegan (VOML)
Free from all kinds of meat, seafood and dairy products, made in an Eastern style.
Jain applicable, usually spicy, cooked in an Indian style. Free from all meats, seafood and dairy products, with no onion, garlic, ginger, mushrooms and root vegetables.
Fruits-Only Meal (FPML)
As can be seen from the image, this meal only uses fresh fruit.
Non-vegans can choose from the following food types:
Western Dairy Vegetarian (VLML)
Contains no meat or fish, but may contain dairy products. Western style cooking.
Oriental Vegetarian (AVML)
Contains no meat or fish, but may contain dairy products. Eastern style cooking.
Indian Vegetarian (INVG)
May contain milk and curry.
For all types of passengers, here are some other (but not necessarily vegetarian) meal options for your reference – this includes kid meals as well!
Baby Meals (BBML): Suitable for 6 month old to 2 year old infants.
Infant Meals (PWML): Suitable for 2 year old children and above – all chewy, soft food.
Children Meal (CHML): Suitable for children from 2-5 years old.
Moderate Meal (BLML): No need to use heavy seasoning, relieves stomach pains.
Diabetic Meal (DBML): Low fat, no sugar.
Gluten-Free Meal (GFML): Suitable for gluten-intolerant people. No gluten.
Low-Calorie meal (LCML): Low-fat, not many deep-fried or high calorie foods.
Low-Fat Meal (LFML): Suitable for those who want to lose weight. Also low in cholesterol.
Low-Salt Meal (LSML): Meal preaparation does not include salt.
Non-Lactose Meal (NLML): Meal does not use ingredients that include dairy products.
Full-Liquid Meal (FLML): Meal contains only liquid foods, with moderate amount of fiber.
Semi-Liquid Meal (SMML): Solid food chopped up and added to a liquid form (soup/stew), little chewing needed, easy to swallow. Suitable for those on a semi-liquid diet.
Thanks to the ever-growing population of vegetarians, vegetarian options are more available on flights. We believe that in the future, vegetarian meal options will become even more popular, and will no longer be a “special choice”, but a regular option.
We hope more vegetarians will be willing to speak up for their dietary choices, and make the vegetarian diet easier for everyone!
Reference: Veggie Planet